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Old 08-17-2009, 08:11 PM
30 posts, read 74,552 times
Reputation: 21


We just had the home inspection on a house here in the New Tampa area. Everything was ok, BUT...water intrusion. It's a stucco house built in 2004. There are stucco cracks all over the house. The minor ones are the "Stair-step" cracks. The major one is "stucco layer is loose" around one of the windows, which is causing water to go in the wall. He wrote in his report that there is significant cracking of the stucco finish atthe second story frame walls and around the windows.

Our inspector said cracking of stucco surface is common and indicates either a thin or quick application was done. He recommended a proper sealing process prior to painting the entire house, which will need to be done ASAP. This is all around the second floor windows which is wood frame. The first floor is concrete block frame. We will also have to fix the loose stucco in one area as it's probably going to come off.

Is this normal for this area? His little moisture reader kept beeping everytime he put it next to one of the windows (readings from inside the house).

This is an M/I home and I haven't seen much about these homes. The rest of the house seems fine, but this could be a deal breaker depending on the cost. My agent has house painters coming to give estimates for painting the house and putting in sealant, but the stucco damage is my worry.

Do all houses here have this issue?
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Old 08-18-2009, 04:13 AM
Location: Sarasota, Florida
807 posts, read 2,821,800 times
Reputation: 701
The superintendant from M/I should have caught this when the home was built. In some cases, they knew it was bad and let it go due to the timetable for completion. In '04 whole streets had 40 to 50 houses in various states of construction and the building boom was in full swing. If you had a pulse, you could work at some building trade and you didn't need much training.

Many trades did sub-standard work due to lack of qualified people to handle the workload and the pressure to produce more and more completed homes in less time. This is the problem I've had with the construction industry for years. Hurry up and throw it in so you can say it's done no matter what the quality. Stucco suffers badly as does framing and drywall.

IMO, I would back away from that house unless you're getting some kind of great deal. If the stucco problems slipped by...what else?
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Old 08-18-2009, 06:15 AM
15,126 posts, read 31,032,495 times
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I would not buy that house. As On-da-Beach stated, during the boom many of those houses were basically slapped together quickly for a fast buck.

I live in an old 1954 concrete block home with stucco that is built like a little bunker - gorgeous. No cracks or flaws anywhere, built with craftmanship and quality materials. I would not buy any home that had stucco over wood frame, especially if newer. I have seen some rot from the inside out.

Good luck.
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Old 08-18-2009, 06:16 AM
Location: East Tennessee
3,924 posts, read 10,296,146 times
Reputation: 5212
On-da-Beach said it very well and I agree. All houses here do not have this problem. I would suggest you also do some additional research to ensure there are/were no sinkholes in the immediate area. Some settling is normal, but you make it sound like a lot. At least, you're in the contingency period. Hopefully your contract is written in your favor so if you need to back out, you can without any penalty. Is this your first house?
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Old 08-18-2009, 11:19 AM
346 posts, read 1,301,690 times
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Stair step cracks indicate the house foundation has settled to the point the exterior stucco has cracked.
This is typically caused by poor site work when the house was built. Quickly pushing dirt around then immediately pouring a foundation does not allow the soil any time to settle. I doubt M/I sat and watered the dirt as it was being leveled to compact it correctly. with tract house builders, its all about speed of construction so corners are routinely cut in places the initial purchaser is not likely to notice.
As for the water, stucco must be applied in 2 coats, one is the base or green coat. This is the coat that binds to the concrete block. A second coat is applied on top as a finishing coat. Sometimes the subs will just apply a finishing coat without a base to cut costs. Also, all the stucco must be primed and sealed before the final paint coat is applied. This provides the water barrier as mentioned above. Once again, some contractors will just do one coat to save costs. The homeowner see the completed job and thinks its done right. All will be fine for about 3 years or until the builders warranty runs out. Paint applied without a primer base will start to blister and will allow water penetration. At this point, the only option is to strip the house and repaint completely.

This does not mean your house is a lemon, but you may want to double check the items you've listed just in case.

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Old 08-19-2009, 12:32 PM
30 posts, read 74,552 times
Reputation: 21
This is our first home to buy. We are getting a good deal on the house since it was appraised $14K higher than what we are paying. We have 3 stucco/painters coming today to look at it and determine the issues. I'll update once that is done. I just don't want to act hastily and buy this house and once it comes time for us to sell it, buyers come look and say...NO THANKS.
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Old 08-19-2009, 03:14 PM
Location: North Port
325 posts, read 884,070 times
Reputation: 95
Being a General Contractor and Remodeler I would be concerned. How is a painting Contractor going to place caulk and paint were these intrusions are. That is only a band-aid. Code requires 1/8" stucco. To properly take care of this problem could be quite costly $$$
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Old 08-19-2009, 06:05 PM
Location: NoFL
22 posts, read 80,357 times
Reputation: 15
A lot of good advice. Be very careful when buying any structure that has stucco over wood frame, especially muti-housing apartment conversions.
I grew up in Tampa, but reside in NF and have seen numerous wood frame, stucco coated, , single family and multi-family homes, with major structural
damage due to water insursion and subterranean termites.

Several condo communties, around Jax and Ponte Vedra, are repairing structural damage due to water intrusion. In most cases no flashing was installed above windows, or flashing was installed wrong. The contractors doing the repairs, are now removing stucco, windows, studs and insulation
all the way to the 3rd floor in many buildings. Big bucks.

Just be cautious when buying ANY stucco over wood frame. Stucco over CB is fine.
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Old 08-20-2009, 03:29 PM
30 posts, read 74,552 times
Reputation: 21
Thanks so much for all your replies. My husband and I read through them and it really helped for us to make sure that we were understanding what the issues were and also getting an idea of what to expect.

We are having the stucco cracks repaired by doing a patch. Then a painter (reputable company) is doing an elastomeric coating on the entire house. Next will be the painting of the house. They are also removing the old caulk from the windows (some windows didn't even have much caulk or none at all) and recaulking all windows. There are some other things like the primer and cleaning, but the gist is that what should have been done from the beginning is now being done correctly.

I spoke with the home inspector again to make sure that I covered everything that he saw that was wrong. He made me feel more at ease about everything and I believe (please please please) we have a handle on everything.

It turns out that the cracks were not as bad as I probably made them to sound in my first post. They aren't great, but not horribly bad. Only two sections will have to have the stucco removed and redone. Thankfully, they are small 2' sections.

Thanks again!!! You really helped me out...A LOT!!
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Old 08-23-2009, 04:24 PM
Location: Tampa
79 posts, read 512,759 times
Reputation: 95
filling the cracks and doing an elastomeric paint will do it.

homeowners that don't keep up on their house painting will acquire cracks which will lead to water intrusion.

I have been in Florida for 8 years and have painted my home 3 times to stay up on it.

settling is common here in Florida in homes and when it happens the weak spots fail (ie. the soft mortar joints in the block).

your blab is probably cracked also under your carpet or in other various spots also due to settling.
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